Cardiff kids take care of their health

Cancer Research UK

Cardiff children worry about their health and would change their habits to reduce the risk of illness in the future.

Almost 80 per cent of children aged between 10 and 16 confessed to having health fears when quizzed in a Cancer Research UK survey1. And while the majority do eat vegetables once a day and don't smoke they still want to make any lifestyle changes necessary to benefit their health in the future.

More than half said they were excited by science. But boys would rather become a sportsman than a scientist and girls preferred to dream about being a pop star than training to be a nurse or doctor.

The children answered questions on science, health and lifestyle habits at Tomorrow's World roadshow in the city centre where they were entertained by a travelling pop band, created by Cancer Research UK.

The all-singing, all-dancing band performed a music spectacular designed to inform teenagers about science and cancer.

The band has been performing with the help of an interactive space capsule and science information robot to help put across the charity's message: to overcome cancer through education, fundraising, recruitment, lifestyle and research.

By stimulating children's interest in science the charity is hoping that more youngsters will be inspired to take up a career working in the fight against cancer.

While one third of 10-12 year old Cardiff boys questioned claimed they smoked, the figure halved in the 13-16 age group.

But while no girls in the 10-12 age group admitted to smoking a fifth of those questioned in the 13-16 group said they smoked.

The vast majority of the children said they protected their skin in the sun sometimes with more than half the girls saying they always used sun protection.

Dr Lesley Walker, Director of Information at Cancer Research UK, says:: "We know that children aged 11 to 16 are actively making decisions that will influence their future health.

"It's crucial that Cancer Research UK gets in early to inform these kids and encourages them to form healthy habits for life. Using a pop band to get this message across is a fantastic idea.

"It's very easy to presume that we know how kids feel. We believe that we have a lot to learn about children's attitudes and their aspirations for the future and the more we understand, the easier it will be for us to help."

ENDS

  1. Around 500 people took part in the survey

Notes to Editor

A recent study showed that sunburn in childhood can double the risk of malignant melanoma in adulthood.

It's estimated that 80 per cent of lifetime exposure to the sun is before the age of 21.

One in five children aged 4 to 18 eat little or no fruit and on average children eat less than two portions a day.

The incidence of cancer is the UK is increasing. In 1998 there were 7,000 extra cases of the disease compared to 1994.

National statistics for 2000 revealed that 10 per cent of pupils aged 11-15 were regular cigarette smokers (defined as usually smoking at least one cigarette a week) - a drop from 13 per cent in 1996. Although 10 per cent were classed as regular smokers figures showed that 17 per cent of pupils had smoked at least one cigarette in the previous week. Only one per cent of 11 year olds were regular smokers compared with 23 per cent of 15 year olds.

Cancer Research UK recently launched 'Help A Friend To Stop Smoking'. The project teaches school children how to offer support and effective and realistic advice to friends trying to kick the habit. It develops listening and communication skills and coaches children in how to deal with confidential subjects. It is designed to fit into a school's curriculum as either a module in Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) or Science classes. The plan is available from the Cancer Research UK website.

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